KANSAS CITY — Danny Duffy pumped his fist and let out a yell as he walked off the mound in the sixth inning on Tuesday night.
The Royals starter was fired up, and rightly so: On his 100th pitch, he struck out Angels third baseman Jack Mayfield on an elevated 95-mph fastball to get out of a bases-loaded mess and guide Kansas City to a 3-2 series-evening victory at Kauffman Stadium.
Duffy worked his way out of traffic and yielded eight hits over six innings to give the Royals the start they needed with a strained bullpen after the previous two games. Duffy struck out six with one walk, and the only run he allowed was a 431-foot home run to Shohei Ohtani in the fifth inning, snapping a 10 2/3 scoreless inning streak that began Duffy’s season.
The veteran lefty recovered well, though, striking out Mike Trout swinging on a slider to end the fifth. The Angels gave Duffy the most trouble in the sixth, when they loaded the bases with three singles and one out. Duffy got left-handed-hitting Jon Jay to weakly ground out to first baseman Carlos Santana, who fired home for the out. Duffy got Mayfield in a 2-2 count before throwing a high fastball for the strikeout.
Tuesday was just the third time a Royals starter finished the sixth inning this season — and the second time Duffy has done it. Last season, he finished the sixth just twice in 11 starts.
And the Royals’ offense backed him up with three runs, the last coming when Whit Merrifield got a second chance on a dropped popup in foul territory. He lined a single to right field, stole his second base of the night off Angels starter Dylan Bundy and made it home on Salvador Perez’s RBI single.
In the ninth, reliever Greg Holland yielded two singles and a walk to Albert Pujols to load the bases. But with Jared Walsh at the plate, Perez blocked a ball in the dirt and fired to third to nail David Fletcher and end the game.